I had to work this Memorial Day Monday, as do I every Monday, but hey, I get holiday pay! And it was an interesting day at the hostel: We saw two German cyclotourists depart for Astoria. They had ridden up from San Francisco, partially on the coast (yes, yes, the wrong way), and partially via Sierra Cascades. They’ll be heading north again, up to Vancouver Island!
And it was also interesting due to racoons. We found a veritable nest of raccoons on the ecoroof of the hostel. My manager decided to shoo them away with a rake, so they promptly climbed the tall cedar next to the house. Well, apparently there’s a crow’s nest atop said tree, and the crows didn’t like it. The alarm was set, and dozens upon dozens of crows descended on the cedar to shake the three racoons out! It was an entertaining show, for sure.
After that, I felt that a good ride was in order. The weather was good, and being a holiday the roads would be relatively quiet. I ambled up towards Forest Park, as a good “ride-through-the-woods” was in order. On the way I passed by the Better Naito demonstration project on the waterfront. Michael Anderson of BikePortland was checking it out with Ryan Hashagren. I chatted for a moment and headed on.
Despite it being a holiday, Leif Erickson was pretty quiet. I saw some joggers and a few other cyclists on this unpaved path, but it was all within the first couple miles, save for a lone cyclist I encountered at the junction with Saltzman. I felt like I had this vast wooded refuge all to myself! When I had dinner at the picnic table by the creek by milepost 3, food picked up at Food Front Co-Op in NW, all I could hear was the gurgle of the creek and assorted animal sounds. The city had retreated.
This is why I love coming to places like this. Oh sure, Leif Erickson isn’t a “true” mountain bike experience (read: not singletrack), but I was still in deep woods, all within the city of Portland, all starting about seven miles from work. And man, it’s Pacific Northwest forest, with ferns and ash and bigleaf maple and Oregon-grape and of course, Douglas-fir. I had spent time in the woods in the midwest during the trip, and they were nice, but there is something about the west-of-Cascades forest, something magical, something otherworldly. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t been in one. And I needed that experience again, something to remind me why I am here, why I love this place.
And after bombing down Germantown Road after finishing up the 11 miles of Leif Erickson, what better way to remind myself of my Portland love by crossing the St. Johns Bridge? Oh sure, bike lanes would be lovely, but taking the right-most lane at 8 pm on a quiet night wasn’t bad, and I was greeted with a great view of Portland below me as the sun began to set. The city that I’ve called home for over 14 years. Why don’t I stop for a quick drink in St. Johns then head home? Why not?
I got home after dark, tired from the 25 mile ride I did. An afternoon well spent.